Helena Lobato, of the diocese of Setúbal (Portugal), has been invited by Pope Francis to be baptized at the Easter Vigil this year in the Vatican, after writing to him for answers she couldn’t find in advice columns.
“I saw the great causes he had embraced, and the results in the lives of people who had been touched by him. Suddenly I put aside my paints and brushes and found myself writing a letter to the Pope,” the woman told the news agency, Ecclesia.
Helena Lobato, an artist and painter, remembers that it all started at a time in her life when she was seeking guidance and direction. “I couldn’t find answers in the advice columns,” she confessed.
She then saw a television program dedicated to the first year of the pontificate of Pope Francis and decided to write him a letter. “I wrote it by hand. My one concern was sharing my life and my doubts with him,” she said.
Lobato noted that the letter was written with tears, in “in a very special and very heartfelt way,” starting not so much from the head as from the heart, and the from the “despair” she sometimes felt.
“I asked if the Holy Father, in his prayer to God, could somehow ask Him to give light to people like me,” the artist recalled.
“Only after I mailed the letter did I realize what I’d done,” she said, adding that she just wanted to “vent” without expecting a response. Instead, a response did come in an unexpected way. “The pope said that he would pray for me, that light would come into my life.”
In a letter sent to Helena Lobato, Francis said that the “light” comes through Baptism, and he invited her to be present at St. Peter’s Basilica the night of the Easter Vigil to be baptized.
“It took me almost two months to accept, from the heart, the invitation the Holy Father had sent me,” she confessed.
The painter is now preparing for baptism at the parish of Cova da Piedade, whose pastor invited her to join a group of adult catechesis.
At the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, Helena Lobato will stand before Pope Francis to receive Baptism, and will be supported by Fr. José Gil Pinheiro, the pastor of her new Christian community and her godfather in baptism.